A while back, I posted about whether or not it was a good idea for an author to have a newsletter.
I think it’s a good idea, and I *finally* got around to following my own advice…
And I had no idea the amount of work that goes into something like that. There’s a lot of thought involved, if you don’t want to just slap-dash a bunch of text together (You don’t, do you?), so I thought I’d share what the process was like.
First, you need to decide on the platform you’re going to use. I looked over some of the more popular ones, and I checked out other author sites that I knew had newsletters, to see what they used.
I decided to go with Mailchimp. It’s free up to 2000 email addresses. If I ever have the “Problem” of having more than 2000 subscribers, I’ll look at paid models. It has plug ins for WordPress that I can use to coordinate my site and my Mailchimp account (Free).
One thing that gave me pause, was that the account creation process required an address. You could also use a Post Office Box, if you had one. This address will go out on all emails (Hint: You can remove it in some places. The site grumbles at you, but the test messages I sent didn’t show it.)
One of the places where you can’t scrub the address is the confirmation email (if you choose to use it – which you might want to do to ward off bots) that goes out to potential subscribers.
This was almost a deal breaker for me until my wife pointed out (in under 60 seconds, no less) that our address was in the public domain. I compared that fact to the annual cost of a Post Office Box, and decided in favor of my wallet.
Once you’ve decided on a platform, you’ve got to decide what you want to do with it? How do you want your Sign-Up form to appear? Do you want to send a welcome message to new subscribers? What do you want to put there? How often do you want to send out your Newsletter? What are you going to include in it? How do you want the newsletter to look?
When I sat down to get this done, I burnt through the better part of 4 hours, crafting Welcome emails, testing to make sure everything worked, crafting the draft of my first Newsletter – Hell, coming up with a name for the Newsletter.
There’s a lot of up front work involved.
Then there’s the frequency of your Newsletters. How often do you want to send them out? You’re kinda making a commitment here. Sure, nothing says that you’ve got to send out a newsletter every month on the dot, but I’m subscribed to newsletters that are really sporadic in their releases and, honestly, I’m less inclined to read them.
Having said that, I probably wouldn’t stay subscribed to a Newsletter that dropped every day without fail either. I don’t have that kind of time. Your mileage may vary, but I think I can handle one Newsletter a month.
What’s going to be in the newsletter? The choice is up to you. I’m going to go with updates on me, what I’m working on, and where I’m going to be.
Additionally, I’m planning on including some non-writing stuff. Photo of the Month, Song or Band of the Month, Recipe of the Month, that kind of thing.
I’m also going to use this platform for any announcements, cover reveals, and book release announcements. How is this different from any other social media?
I’ll be sending my subscribers stuff like that, a day before it goes live for the rest of the world.
I’m also toying around with other exclusive content. Snippets of what I’m working on, a five minute writing sprint, prompted by something from a random verb generator, the possibilities are nearly endless. The point is, that *only* subscribers will get to see it.
Now that I’ve sat down and planned this thing, I can see opportunities for where it can be useful. Like most everything else in the Writing world, you’re playing a long game, but I think, in the end, it’ll be worth the up-front work.
Oh, and my first newsletter goes live in June. If you’re interested, you can sign up at my website.